Growth dynamics and cytoskeleton organization during stem maturation and gravity-induced stem bending in Zea mays L.
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Characterization of gravitropic bending in the maize stem pulvinus, a tissue that functions specifically in gravity responses, demonstrates that the pulvinus is an ideal system for studying gravitropism. Gravistimulation during the second of three developmental phases of the pulvinus induces a gradient of cell elongation across the non-growing cells of the pulvinus, with the most elongation occurring on the lower side. This cell elongation is spatially and temporally separated from normal internodal cell elongation. The three characterized growth phases in the pulvinus correspond closely to a specialized developmental sequence in which structural features typical of cells not fully matured are retained while cell maturation occurs in surrounding internodal and nodal tissue. For example, the lignification of supporting tissue and rearrangement of transverse microtubules to oblique that occur in the internode when cell elongation ceases are delayed for up to 10 d in the adjacent cells of the pulvinus, and only occurs as a pulvinus loses its capacity to respond to gravistimulation. Gravistimulation does not modify this developmental sequence. Neither wall lignification nor rearrangement of transverse microtubules occurs in the rapidly elongating lower side or non-responsive upper side of the pulvinus until the pulvinus loses the capacity to bend further. Gravistimulation does, however, lead to the formation of putative pit fields within the expanding cells of the pulvinus.
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